Rahmatullah Khan Shakir (1901-2000), Former Assistant Editor and Manager of Al Fazl
With a very small number and meagre means, the Muslims changed the world map in a very short period of time. Many reasons can be given for this, one of which was their unusual courage and bravery.
Their faith had altogether transformed the state of their hearts and they were so infatuated with the Divine that as compared to Islam, they valued nothing – neither their own lives, nor their kith and kin.
They were steadfast and had so high a resolve that they were not feared by even grave adversities. The accounts of their courage and bravery are so extensively quoted in history that would make voluminous books. For the sake of brevity, only a few accounts are given below:
Facing a raging river
The Companionsra were faced with a raging river when they advanced to Midian. There was no solution to this problem. At last, irrespective of the consequences, these brave men directed their horses into the river. The Almighty Allah helped them and most of them managed to cross it safely and enter the city.
To see them, the Persians exclaimed, “Diwan amadand” and vacated the city. (Tarikh al-Tabari, p. 2441)
In the final battle against the Persians on the battlefield of Qadisiyyah, in the time of Hazrat Umarra, the Muslim forces were faced with a grave difficulty. The Persians brought their elephants on the battlefield. And wherever they directed them, they trampled the Muslim forces under their feet and disarrayed the Muslim ranks.
Hazrat Qa‘qara devised to cover the camels with black sheets of cloth and brought them against the elephants, but to no avail. Hazrat Saadra bin Abi Waqas led the Muslim troops and was greatly perturbed by the elephants.
Some new converts from the Persians suggested that the elephants could not harm them if their trunks and eyes were damaged. He tasked Hazrat Qa‘qara, Hazrat Mahalra and Hazrat Rabira to damage their eyes and trunks. These three courageous men encircled the elephants and started damaging their eyes with spears. There was a white elephant which was leading them. With all his courage, Hazrat Qa‘qara struck its trunk so powerfully that it severed into two. In pain, it ran so helplessly that all the other elephants followed suit. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Zikr Yaumi Aghwath, Vol. 3, p. 544)
Hazrat Ali’sra bravery
It is not just fighting against an enemy with a sword in hand on the battlefield that is called courage and valour. In fact, real courage and bravery is to accept truthfulness in a time when it is met with adversity from all around and the enemies are bent upon persecution. To stand for what is the truth at such a critical time – in other words, putting oneself in fatal danger – is tantamount to real courage and bravery. There is no dearth of such instances of courage and bravery in the lives of the Companionsra.
Hazrat Alira was hardly 14 or 15 years old when the Holy Prophetsa, in order to propagate to them the message of Islam, invited his relatives to a feast. After the meal, the Holy Prophetsa stood up and invited them to accept Islam. He said to them, “I present to you the best thing in faith and the world. Who will be my helper and supporter in this regard?”
All of them kept quiet at this, but Hazrat Alira stood up and said, “Even though I am the youngest and weakest of all, I will be your helper and supporter.”
The Holy Prophetsa asked him to sit down and repeated his question. He repeated the question a third time, but none of them replied except Hazrat Alira, who stood up all three times and promised to support him, irrespective of the fact that all the elders of the family refused to shoulder this responsibility. (Tarikh al-Tabari, p. 1172)
When the Holy Prophetsa decided to migrate to Medina, it was a time when the idolaters, to see the Muslims leave Mecca one by one, planned to end the mission of the Holy Prophetsa.
Armed, the idolaters besieged his house on the night the Holy Prophetsa was to leave Mecca. In order to avoid any suspicion on the part of the disbelievers, the Holy Prophetsa asked Hazrat Alira to sleep in his place. Irrespective of the fear of death, Hazrat Alira accepted this responsibility willingly.
Right when the jingle of swords was audible from outside, Hazrat Alira lay calmly in his bed. As the disbelievers were sure of the Holy Prophet’ssa presence inside, they did not heed to other things and the Holy Prophetsa managed to leave Mecca. They were very annoyed when they realised their mistake in the morning, but by that time, they knew they were too late. (Sirat Ibn Hisham, Bab Hijratur-Rasul)
Hazrat Safiyyah’sra self-defence
The incidents of courage and bravery are not confined to the Muslim men; rather, the Muslim women too were characterised with this merit.
During the Battle of Ditch, the Holy Prophetsa secured all the Muslim women in a castle and tasked Hazrat Hassanra with the duty of their security. A Jew, looking for a way to attack the castle, reached its gate. On seeing the Jew, Hazrat Safiyyahra asked Hazrat Hassanra to kill him lest he reported to his comrades and they attacked them. But Hazrat Hassanra, due to an illness, had become so repulsive to bloodshed that he could not even bear to see it, let alone join it. Therefore, he excused himself from it. And since the secure return of the Jew could have resulted in an attack, she herself stepped forward, uprooted a pole of a camp, descended from the castle and struck the Jew so forcefully that he died there and then. Thereafter she severed his head from the body and threw it down the castle to strike terror into the hearts of the Jews. Thus, it generated satisfactory result and the Jews thought that there was some force in the castle as well and they did not dare to attack it. (Sirat Ibn Hisham, Bab Ghazwah Khandaq)
Valour of Hazrat Umm Saleemra
Hazrat Umm Saleemra, with a dagger in hand, walked around on the battlefield of Hunain. Hazrat Abu Talhahra apprised the Holy Prophetsa of it. He asked her the reason thereof. She replied, “I will thrust it into the belly of an idolater in case he advances to us.” The Holy Prophetsa smiled at this reply. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab-ul-Jihad, Bab Ghazwat-un-Nisa ma‘ar-Rijal)
Courage of Muslims under the command of Hazrat Khalidra
Whilst fighting against the Persians, once, the Muslim force besieged a city, Anbar, whose chief was a Persian leader, Sherzad, who had built an earthen mound next to the city wall. The Muslim force was led by Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid.
After the siege prolonged, Hazrat Khalidra advanced along with his brave soldiers. A trench hindered their way, and from the other side, a hail of arrows came flying in from the Persians. In order to cross the ditch, Hazrat Khalidra ordered to slaughter the weak and lean camels and fill the ditch with them, and thus make a sort of bridge. As for the hail of arrows, it was not a thing worthy of notice for the Muslim force. The enemies did their job whereas the Muslims, theirs. Therefore, the Persians hailed arrows and the Muslims continued advancing. As to how much damage the Muslim force endured can be assessed from the thousand soldiers who lost their eyes.
But they continued advancing and first, they occupied the mound and then reached the city wall. They encountered great resistance from the Persians, but how could they be stopped who, putting their own lives at risk, had reached there. By the grace of Allah, they conquered and triumphantly entered the city. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 3, p. 375, Hadith-ul-Anbar)
Conquering a city through “divine help”
Mere courage and bravery are of little value unless wisdom and prudence are brought in use as well. The governor of Basrah at the time, Hazrat Abdullahra bin Amir sent Hazrat Haramra bin Hayan to besiege Jaur when the Muslim forces were fighting against the Persians. The siege prolonged and entry into the city seemed unlikely. Hazrat Haramra bin Hayan observed a fast during the day and busied himself in worship during the night hours.
One day, at the time of breaking the fast, he was not able to acquire food, something he bore with great patience and the next day again, he observed a fast. But again, he did not get his meal. This routine continued for some days.
At last, he asked his servant as to why the meal was not cooked for him. He replied that he regularly served him the meal and only God knew where it had gone. The next time the servant was to set the meal down, the servant sat to watch it. Shortly afterwards, a dog appeared and took away the food. The servant followed it and saw that the dog entered the city through a sewer.
The servant returned and reported it to Hazrat Haramra, who took it as divine help. As the night fell, he, along with some brave comrades, entered the city through the same sewer. They killed the guards and opened the city gates and thus, the Muslim force occupied the city. (Futuh-ul-Buldan, Vol. 1, p. 377, Fathah Kur Faris wa Kirman)
During the Battle of Qadisiyyah, when both the forces faced each other, a prince, Hurmaz, came out on the battlefield and called out for his rival from the opposing party. Hazrat Ghalibra bin Abdullah Asadi advanced to contest with him and soon, captured him and brought him to the Muslim ranks. Thereafter, another very renowned warrior came out, in whose contest Hazrat Asimra stepped forward. Both the warriors wrestled with each other, but soon after, the Persian warrior fled from the battlefield. Hazrat Asimra followed him and right when he was close to the first rank of his force Asimra held the tail of his opponent’s horse and stopped it from moving forward. He then got hold of his opponent and forcibly mounted him on his own horse and thus brought him to his side. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Zikr Yaumi Armath, Vol. 3, p. 537)
Foot soldier subdues general
After the Persians fled from Qadisiyyah, a leader of theirs, Sheheryar, gathered his defeated force at Kothi and started planning to avenge the Muslims. Hazrat Zuhrahra happened to pass by that place and learnt of Sheheryar’s planning. He too came out to fight when he learnt of the Muslims’ arrival. Both the armies arrayed themselves against each other. Sheheryar challenged the bravest of the Muslims to come out to fight him. Hazrat Zuhrahra replied that he himself wanted to fight a duel with him, but to see his arrogance, he said he would send a regular soldier and sent Hazrat Nailra bin Ja‘sham Araj, who was a slave from Banu Tamim.
Hazrat Nailra was a lean man whereas Sheheryar had a healthy and robust body. In no time, he overpowered Hazrat Nailra and dropping him down, sat down on his chest. But his thumb happened to come into the mouth of Hazrat Nailra. He bit him so severely that Sheheryar could not bear its pain and the next moment, Hazrat Nailra was on top and Sheheryar was lying down and Hazrat Nailra slit his belly with a dagger. The Muslim Commander-in-chief ordered Hazrat Nailra to come in Sheheryar’s armour, weapons and the whole dress and he complied with it. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Zikr Yaumi Babul, vol.3, p. 621)
A Roman fort is conquered
In a battle against the Romans, the Muslim force besieged a castle and the siege prolonged. The disbelievers would not come out of the castle and hurled stones and showered arrows when the Muslims neared it.
Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra called for reinforcement from Medina, which included a black slave, Hazrat Wamisra, whose patronym was Abul Haul. He requested Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra to provide him 30 warriors and that he would somehow try to enter the castle.
The next night, Hazrat Wamisra, accompanied by 30 warriors, reached close to the castle and advising his men to stay there, he took a round of the castle. He found a turret undefended. Either there was none to defend it or its security guard was asleep. Hazrat Wamisra sent two of his men to Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra with a message to send a thousand warriors near the castle before dawn. Standing below the city wall, he guessed that a man on top of a ladder of seven men standing on top of each other could reach the top. He himself stood below and mounted six men on top of each other and thus, the top man reached the top of the wall and tied a rope with the turret.
With the help of the rope, all of these warriors entered the tower. There, they found two watchmen drunk. The day before, the Muslim force, as a strategy, had announced to depart, and the Romans celebrated for their departure and became drunk. The drunk watchmen were slain.
Hazrat Wamisra, accompanied by his warriors, came to the gate and started killing the security guards. Hearing their commotion, other Roman soldiers woke up and attacked the Muslim group. Hazrat Wamisra, in order to keep the gate in their control, stationed his men at the gate and a real battle started. Hazrat Wamisra had prepared a bunker because of which the Romans could not attack them in large number. It was a narrow place and only a small number of men could enter it.
Whoever of them entered it, the Muslim fighters killed them. From midnight till dawn, this fighting continued and eight Muslims were martyred. At dawn, the Muslim force reached outside the castle and raised slogans of “Allahu Akbar”. Hazrat Wamisra, knowing that the Muslim force had reached outside the castle, left fighting and opened the gate. And the Muslim force entered the castle triumphantly.
In this fight, Hazrat Wamisra received 70 wounds but continued fighting.
(Translated by Shahid Mahmood Ahmad, Missionary in Ghana, from the original Urdu, Muslim Nau-jawanon kay Sunehri Karnamey)